Can Tourism Unlock More Residential Sales at the Keys?


Longboat Key, Florida | December 26th, 2017 – Where tourists go, home buyers typically follow. Given this oft-repeated correlation between the tourism and real estate industries, an annual survey of travel trends provides us with added reasons to be optimistic about the prospects of the realty trade in 2018.


We’re talking about the yearly poll of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) released recently. It showed that 95 percent of its membership are anticipating sales growth in 2018, with 64 percent of them optimistic and looking forward to a boom year, which would show a 7‒10 percent spike in the travel trade.


Florida Sustains Leadership


Can Tourism Unlock More Residential Sales at the Keys? - Judy Kepecz-Hays Selling Luxury Real EstateWhat’s even more pleasing for us Floridians, the USTOA survey named our Sunshine State as one of the top five candidates as the hottest or most popular tourist destinations in the country for 2018. Florida notably tied with Hawaii for second place in this ranking, and came next only to California in the listing. This poll indeed is yet another affirmation of our state’s traditional leadership in the travel and real estate trade.


It pleases us too that our region, Longboat Key included, has the right attractions and added new facilities that are magnets, not only to tourists, but also to prospective residential property buyers. Most of us in town know, of course, about the grand opening of the boutique Zota Beach Resort on Longboat Key in June 2017.


Ocean Properties’ Huge Presence


Can Tourism Unlock More Residential Sales at the Keys? - Judy Kepecz-Hays Selling Luxury Real EstateThis resort housed in the former Hilton building on Gulf of Mexico Drive is owned by Ocean Properties and is but one of several of this company’s ventures in our area. This Delray Beach-based company also owns the Resort at Longboat Key Club, as well the Holiday Inn, Lido Beach Resort and Sandcastle Resort, all in Lido Beach just south of Longboat Key. Zota is Ocean Properties’ first resort in Manatee County.


A Manatee tourism official has projected that the Zota’s opening would boost tourist arrivals by 30 percent in Longboat. In 2016, it was estimated that the Manatee north end of the island (where Zota is located) had 70,000 visitors staying in short-term rentals and feeding business opportunities to other local establishments.


Zota adds a total of 197 much-needed rooms to the short-term rental bedstock in our town, which was depleted due to Hilton’s closure several years back. Besides its 84 rooms in the totally renovated former Hilton building, Zota also has a new tower housing 103 rooms. The beach resort also has three conference rooms and offers the Cascades Pool Bar and the Viento Kitchen & Bar which are both open to the public.


Resort at Longboat Key Girds for Expansion


Ocean Properties is poised to up its stake in our town with its voter-approved expansion plan for a new hotel with 300 rooms at the Resort at Longboat Key Club. As an initial step towards the implementation of this plan, the company has sought authorization to realign Longboat Club Road to the north. This project will provide larger space for the hotel parcel to the south and create landscaping for the roadway and the gatehouse.


Separately, Ocean Properties has filed with Sarasota city officials, its plans to revamp and expand the Sandcastle Hotel it earlier acquired on Lido Key Beach. The blueprint the company submitted calls for an additional 128 rooms to the existing 176 rooms in this historic beachfront hotel. Already, Ocean Properties has secured city approval for the upgrade of the hotel’s seawall, which brings a step forward its makeover plan for the Sandcastle.


From the looks of all these recent developments, there indeed are plenty of things to be cheery about moving into 2018, especially in tourism and its ripple effects on real estate. Check with our Judy Kepecz-Hays team whether you’re buying or selling a residence this coming New Year, as there’s more we can share about the opportunities available in our market.


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